Let’s start big! What is depression? What is anxiety? It took me months to discern the differences and I wish I had figured it out sooner. Depression and anxiety have a lot of similarities but they are not the same.
According to the American Psychiatric Association:
Depression is a mood disorder that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress while anxiety disorders involve excessive fear or anxiety.
The common traits include restlessness, excessive worrying, agitation, unexplained physical complaints, and trouble concentrating to name a few. However, they are definitely not the same because you can have one without the other. I want to emphasize that anxiety is a normal reaction and it is quite beneficial in most situations because it is part of the “fight or flight” phenomenon that every person experiences. The best way for me to describe how someone with high anxiety feels, imagine being in a constant “fight or flight” state. It’s similar to that feeling that you have when you feel someone is watching or following you, now imagine having that feeling for half of every day. Those with high anxiety feel like that in more instances than the typical individual.
Depression is similar to being in a state where the individual thinks of everything as a “glass half empty” and not “glass half full”. Their views on the world are very pessimistic. This state causes individuals to find the worse in every situation because it is what they expect. This mindset usually leads to isolation because of activities, and sometimes even people, lose value. Depression can manifest in a variety of ways so before you dismiss a friend for backing out of plans or not being attentive when you need them, it is not their fault.
Do you really have depression or is it just anxiety? It is very common to not know the difference, you should!